So Princess Charlotte is here, bringing with her a flurry of Facebook well-wishers and bandwagon-jumping from anyone related to the world of baby paraphernalia. I’m pretty sure if the turnout at the polls on Thursday are higher than expected it’ll be attributed to the Charlotte-factor. If they’re not then it’ll be because the nation was too busy cooing over the baby pictures and knitting bootees.
And as I look at this picture-perfect branch of the Royal family (Was I the only one who hoped Prince George would have a tantrum on the steps of the hospital? What are they putting in his milk? And where can I buy it online?) I wonder if I’d rather be a Duchess rather than a run-of-the-mill mum.
REASONS TO WANT TO BE A NEW-MUM DUCHESS
Top-notch maternity care
I highly suspect HRH Kate Middleton wasn’t kept waiting at midwife appointments so that a half-hour check was forced to last all of 5 minutes. I bet she didn’t have to provide her own container to pee into either.
I bet she wasn’t told to hang on as long as possible before heading to the hospital with the fear that she’d be sent home again with a paracetamol to help with the pain if she wasn’t progressing quick enough. I bet she didn’t have to worry about the unit being closed due to a lack of beds/staff shortages. I bet she didn’t have to rule out the idea of a water birth or an epidural because there weren’t sufficient facilities or have to keep her newborn baby quiet whilst the on other side of a paper-thin curtain a teenage mum endured her 30th hour of labour.
I bet she didn’t have to sleep on bloodied sheets or hold off going to the loo because there was no one there to look after the precious bundle. I bet a midwife didn’t tut-tut at her for not accepting a bottle when breastfeeding wasn’t a complete walk in the park.
Those first photos
Those first pictures are precious. So how nice it must be to have the world’s press assembled willing to take said shots. Plus someone to do your hair and make-up. And clothes that flatter the post-baby tummy, rather than some manky Mothercare nightie that you’ve not had a chance to change out of since the birth. To not have to wait 48 hours for the bath to make its way around the maternity ward so that the baby’s not still covered in vernix. And to not have to pose the family so that the blood-stained hospital sheets aren’t visible.
Spot the difference:
The bloodstains got cropped from the above shot, but I couldn’t do anything about the peeling paint. Classy!
The use of a nanny
Trying to manage the needs of the whole family is demanding. The new baby is a 24/7 bundle of need, but the older kids need time and attention too. How’s a new mum to split herself without going insane? How nice it must be to hand over such challenges to staff.
Especially when it’s the case of a nappy that’s leaked up the back and written off yet another baby-gro.
No greasy ponytails
A new baby and the ability to shower don’t often go hand in hand. But when you’re a princess the locks stay as lustrous as ever. I’m betting Kate isn’t waddling her way around St James’ Palace with her hair scrapped back in a ponytail that could be used to cook chips. She won’t have to fret about finding the time to get her roots done. Nope, looking good is written into the schedule and she will continue to look as gorgeous as she always has.
And isn’t that a huge hurdle after having a baby: feeling like yourself in an alien body, with a jelly belly and cankles and leaking Dolly Parton boobs and then not being able to wash?
And this will be become the benchmark to which all other new mums should aspire. Despite the fact that those other mums have the real world to contend with. No pressure!
Home Sweet Home
Baby stuff can pretty much take over your life. It’s bad enough when it’s a buggy and a changing mat, baby gym and assorted noisy toys. Imagine what it must be like when it’s every conceivable baby product ever made, gifted by the manufacturers in the hope that your child will be photographed in/with their item.
But the pressure’s off when you get a newly refurbished 10-bedroom mansion in the wilds of Norfolk. Along with someone to keep it immaculately neat on your behalf.
REASONS TO NOT WANT TO BE A NEW-MUM DUCHESS
Hands Off My Brood!
Being a new mum is feral. The world suddenly seems overwhelmingly loud and sharp and just a plethora of danger to your precious newborn. You want it just to fuck off and leave you alone to drawn curtains and no one to ever EVER knock on the door during nap time. You want old ladies and their callused fingers to stay away from your baby’s delicate skin. You want the boy racer to turn his dub-step down or die!
What you don’t want is the world – including Nicholas Whitchell FFS – parked out on your hospital doorstep ready to scream and shout and let off party-poppers the second you step blinking into the sunshine with your new baby princess. Don’t these people understand anything?!?
Families don’t tend to hold back on giving baby advice. It can be harsh to know everyone’s done it better. Imagine how relentless it must be when the kid in question has immediate responsibilities regarding their in line to the throneness?! And when the world expert in dealing with throne-related-issues is grandma-in-law!!!
Surely nothing can be done without Granny’s input. Want to name your child River or Rhianna or Apple? Not a hope in hell! You get to pick from The Book of Boringly Sensible Baby Names. And only The Book of Boringly Sensible Baby Names.
School’s pretty much a done deal too. Mummas like to dream about what their little one’s going to be: scientist, ballet dancer, footballer, lawyer… Not here. The establishment has your little one’s future all mapped out. Dream on, Mum.
And to be honest, your own fate’s pretty much sealed too. Want to live in the Cotswolds? Or Paris? Or California? Nope. You’ve got London or Norfolk. That’s it. Holidays are arranged around tours and Christmas is always at his granny’s. But at least you don’t have to cook.
And that’s without the additional pressure of having a dead mother-in-law regarded by the world as a Queen of People’s Hearts. How are you going to measure up in the constant roll of comparisons. (Although Kate can do a little snap of oneupmanship for having a boy followed by a girl! The perfect family unit! If she then doesn’t have an affair then she’s got it in the bag!)
Parenting is hard. When the baby just refuses to sleep. Or the toddler’s just had a meltdown to rival Chenoybl. Or the teenager’s flunked out of school and got a dodgy piercing. It’s tricky enough when you’re a stranger amongst strangers. But when the whole WORLD knows your name? How do you even begin to cope with that constant need for perfection?
It’s not even like you can blog about the shitty times in the hope of letting off some steam and seeing the funny side. Without that release valve madness lies.
So maybe I’m happiest not being a duchess. It’d be nice though if there was a charitable programme that could give us hard-pressed real-life mums the chance to at least sample life in Kate’s skinny jeans. I wouldn’t dare wear a white dress now (it’s a one-way ticket to stain magnetism) let alone on the day I’d given birth. I’d like to know what it must feel like to have a taste of that world.
In exchange I’ll let Kate slob out in her sweat pants with her hair in a skanky ponytail without judgement. Hell, she can even let go of constantly breathing in her mummy tummy if she wants. How about it, Kate?